General Guidelines for Fitting Dance Shoes
Whether you prefer ballroom, latin, swing or tango, consider how a great fitting pair of shoes can enhance your dance. Here are some general guidelines to remember when fitting for a new pair of dance shoes.
Anticipate Your Needs
In addition to color and style, there are some questions to ask yourself before you buy:
Will you need the shoe for practice, social dance or performance?
What kind of floor surface will you be dancing on?
How high will you want the heel?
Will you need a lighter, flexible shoe with a suede sole or a more supportive shoe with a leather sole?
Read our article: Four Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Ballroom Dance Shoe
Consider the Material
Leather, and to a lesser degree, satin, will stretch with wear particularly in the width. Shoes with mesh, patent leather and those made with other synthetic materials may give less easily.
What is the nature and function of the shoe?
Although the ankle straps are used to help the heel stay in the shoe and to some degree, prevent you from sliding down, it is important to find a shoe that supports you well through the metatarsal. Strappy styles have less material to lend support and often have a wider toe opening. Often, strappy styles accommodate wide feet well. Peep toe styles allow the toes room to move while offering more support especially for narrower feet.
Very specialized dance shoes such as pointe shoes call for an experienced shoe fitter. Poorly fitting pointe shoes may lead to permanent damage to the feet. Talk to your dance instructor about your particular needs. Invite them along to your pointe shoe fitting if at all possible.
The height of your heel will vary depending on your comfort level. Keep in mind that higher heels will push your weight toward your forefoot which may influence the size you may need. Generally, 2″ or lower is considered a low heel. 3″ and higher is considered a high heel.
Before the Fitting
If possible, wear socks or tights if you plan on wearing them while you dance. If you require inserts, remember to bring these as well. Trim your nails close to the nail bed especially if you plan on buying closed toe shoes.
Trying the Shoe
Strap on both shoes and stand with equal weight on both feet. Your foot should fill the shoe without undue pinching or pain. Your toes should lie flat, even if your knees are bent with full weight through your leg. Your metatarsals should feel quite supported but your toes rest comfortably. The ball of your foot and the lateral part of your foot should make full contact with the sole. The back of your heel should make full contact with the heel counter of the shoe without cutting into the Achilles tendon. The straps should feel secure and make full contact with the foot or ankle without discomfort.
Moving around in the shoes, you should feel balanced during any transfer of weight. Your heel should remain in the shoe-no sliding or pistoning. The ball of the foot should remain in place as well so that your toes do not slide forward though the opening.
Your foot should fill the shoe with little space left over at the toe and the heel. Competitors find it desirable to have their toes over the lip of the shoe by 1/4″ or less in order to have more control of the shoe and to feel the floor. The ball of your foot should rest comfortably in the shoe so that it is in complete contact with the sole. If you have a high arch, you may need inserts for added support, however, the lateral part or the outer part of your foot should maintain contact with the sole.
Chicago Dance Supply is open daily. Stop in today for your dance shoe fitting!
5301 N Clark St Chicago, IL 60640